On Neoliberalism

Outside of certain environments neoliberalism is a word you don’t hear very often, but I suspect that is going to change in the very near future. With that in mind, I thought I would take a moment to shed a little light on what the word means.

Oh, I know right out of the gate you are probably thinking “Christ, here comes Keith and more of his leftie/pinko/commie crap.

Well, you’re wrong.

Let us consider the word itself, neoliberalism:

Neo, from the Greek neos, meaning new
liberalism which can be defined as “a political philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness of the human race, and the autonomy of the individual;specifically :  such a philosophy that considers government as a crucial instrument for amelioration of social inequities (as those involving race, gender, or class)“.

So, by that you might think neoliberalism means a new liberal. Right? A left leaning, tree hugging, weed smoking, non bathing, Occupy Wall Street, et al. type of person. Put another way, the type of individual a FOX News commentator could spend the better part of an hour blathering on about spewing enough vitriol to rival the annual Nuremberg Rally’s during Hitler’s reign. Incidentally, those commentators have such an allergy to the word “liberal”, I wonder if they don’t have an EpiPen when they are in close proximity to a left leaning liberal.

Neoliberalism, the belief and a neoliberal, the person, could not be further from any belief system generally associated with a left leaning liberal. And while there remains a fair amount of debate about its truest definition (I’ll leave that argument for brains far bigger than mine).

That said, I will stick to a very broad view of what it is mostly associated with today.

For Americans there are really two neoliberal deities to help lay groundwork of where we’re headed, Ronald Reagan and Milton Friedman…with the Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher lingering around as a saint.

But first, an explanation, ripped right from Wikipedia:

“Since the 1980s, the term has been used primarily by scholars and critics in reference to the resurgence of 19th century ideas associated with laissez-faire economic liberalism beginning in the 1970s and 1980s, whose advocates support extensive economic liberalization policies such as privatization, fiscal austerity, deregulation, free trade, and reductions in government spending in order to enhance the role of the private sector in the economy….The transition towards neoliberal policies and the acceptance of neoliberal economic theories in the 1970s are seen by some academics as the root of financialization, with the financial crisis of 2007–08 one of the ultimate results.”

More succinctly, neoliberalism is a conservative economic idea and movement. It’s modern definition really began taking shape under Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. You know, the guy who overthrew the democratically elected Salvador Allende in 1973 under the tutelage of the CIA and then proceeded to eliminate anything nationalized (except the copper mines) abolished any kind of price controls, crushed labor unions…well, rape and pillage his country and pretty much just financially fuck everything up under the tutelage of the CIA, neoliberal God Milton Friedman and his Chicago Boys (Chilean economists who studied under Friedman).

That turned out well.

Now you may be asking yourself “Why are we going to be hearing more of this in the near future?” That was then, this is now.

Firstly, because global warming is a serious issue and it’s one of the few remaining unchartered capitalistic territories that has yet to be entirely plundered by multi-national organizations and without some kind of intervention, well, it looks kind of grim (as Naomi Klein writes about in her new book This Changes Everything).

Secondly, if you dig a little deeper into the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), I am guessing you will not be down with TPP. I can’t imagine what the president was thinking when his own party was not supporting it and the other party (who has spent the past seven years pretty much equating President Obama with Satan himself) supporting it. I mean if you talk about red flags, that should be a giant one.

Those are just two very large things we, as humans, are facing and if either of them fall under the tutelage of the neoliberals we’re doomed. I’m not joking. Seriously, doomed.

Well, not me so much as maybe your kids or grandkids.

So, be active with your politicians. Write letters, it is as easy as this, (click it dummy) bombard their social media…annoy the hell out of your representatives. Whether you believe it or not (and you should), we do have the power to change things…there is strength in numbers. 

Noam Chomsky on neoliberalism:

Instead of citizens, it produces consumers. Instead of communities, it produces shopping malls. The net result is an atomized society of disengaged individuals who feel demoralized and socially powerless. In sum, neoliberalism is the immediate and foremost enemy of genuine participatory democracy, not just in the United States but across the planet, and will be for the foreseeable future.”

Be afraid. Be very afraid.